The vervet monkey rescued by the Bloemfontein SPCA. Photo: Supplied (SPCA)

BLOEMFONTEIN - A 64-year-old sangoma and her husband have admitted guilt to complaints made by the Bloemfontein Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and have been convicted and sentenced in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court, an SPCA official said.  

Pauline Tukula admitted that she had no permits to keep wild animals in dire circumstances, Bloemfontein SPCA senior inspector Reinet Meyer said in a statement issued on Saturday.

"With our visit to Pauline Tukula in Kabane Street in Botchabelo, Bloemfontein, Pauline tried to pull our attention away and showed us all her certificates to show that she is a traditional healer. It did not take our attention away of the true problem at all and we paid attention to the vervet monkey and the eight tortoises," she said.

"The vervet monkey was in a wire cage. During our visit there was no food or water available for the poor animal. The vervet monkey's cage in which he was, was completely unacceptable. The cage was hopelessly too small. Loose wires were in the cage and that could hurt the monkey very badly. There was also not enough environment enrichment for the monkey in the cage. There was barely a place where the monkey could sit properly.

"In the same cage were also eight tortoises. One tortoise was lying in a dish on his back and could not get [out] from the dish at all. If we did not arrive there the poor tortoise would have died. No food or water was also present for the tortoises. When we asked Pauline Tukula what she was doing with the animals, she admitted that she used them in her traditional rituals," Meyer said.

"The vervet monkey and the eight tortoises were confiscated and taken to the Bloemfontein SPCA for safe custody. The vervet monkey and tortoises were taken to a vet and it was found that [a] tooth of the monkey was pulled out. The monkey and tortoises are also malnourished and dehydrated."

Complaints were opened with police against Pauline Tukula and Tshidiso Sidwell Tukula. They appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court, charged with not having permits to keep wild animals.

Pauline Tukula was sentence to a fine of R6000 or six months imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years.

Tshidiso Sidwell Tukula was sentenced to a fine of R6000 or six months imprisonment, of which R4000 or four months imprisonment was suspended for five years.

"Although you are a sangoma, the Bloemfontein SPCA will not tolerate animal abuse. If you are guilty of animal abuse or because you do not have permits to keep wild animals, we will lay charges against any person," Meyer said.

"It does not matter how many certificates you have or like in the case of the sangoma that has traditional healing certificates, does not mean that animal abuse may take place. We, as Bloemfontein SPCA will always stand up for the animals and we will always be their voice. No animal abuse will be tolerated. Wild animals belong in the wild, and not caught in cages without the freedom of the 5 Freedoms," she said.

African News Agency/ANA